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Baking Essentials - Wheat Flours

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

Photo: English - 10–14 percent protein © Provided by DKBooks English - 10–14 percent protein

Photo: North American - 10–18 percent protein © Provided by DKBooks North American - 10–18 percent protein

North American - 10–18 percent protein

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

English - 10–14 percent protein

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

© Provided by DKBooks

Wheat Flours

Flour is a key ingredient in all breads. Wheat flour is by far the most common type used in bread-making. The wheat kernel consists of three parts: bran, germ, and endosperm. The wheat bran is the husk that encloses the kernel, while the nutritious wheat germ is the seed of the future plant. The endosperm, the inner part of the kernel, is full of starch and protein. This high protein content makes wheat ideal for breadmaking. When dough is kneaded, the protein in the flour develops into gluten, an elastic substance that traps the carbon dioxide generated by the leavening agent, allowing the dough to rise.


The milling process

Wheat plant

Dirt and impurities

Cleaned wheat

Endosperm

Reduced endosperm

Chaff

Sieved wheat

Flour


Wheat plant

Harvested in plant form, wheat goes directly from the fields to a mill where the grains are sorted and cleaned before beginning the milling process.


Dirt and impurities

This residue is removed from the wheat and discarded before the cleaned grains are milled.


Cleaned wheat

After passing through a succession of rollers and sieves, the wheat kernels are thoroughly cleaned.


Endosperm

Four sets of rollers, called break rolls, shear open the grain to expose the white, floury portion of the kernel, or endosperm.


Reduced endosperm

Up to 12 sets of reducing rollers continue to break down the endosperm.


Chaff

The outer layer of the broken grain is removed by sieving.


Sieved wheat

After sieving, the well- crushed endosperm is the texture of fine powder.


Flour

Sieving and reduction continue until the type of flour desired is obtained.


The protein content of wheat

Wheat is divided into several types, according to the “hardness” of the grain. This refers to the protein content of the wheat kernels. The larger the endosperm, the higher the percentage of protein in the milled flour, which allows gluten to form easily when using the flour to make bread.


Types of wheat flour

All-purpose flour

This multipurpose flour, produced from a blend of hard and soft wheat, can be used for bread and pastries but contains less protein and gluten than unbleached flours made for breadmaking.


Whole-wheat flour

Made from the complete wheat kernel, this flour makes a fuller flavored, nutritious but denser loaf than all-purpose flour. The extra bran hinders rising.


Unbleached flour

Also referred to as bread flour, this flour is milled from hard wheat and has a higher proportion of gluten than all-purpose flour. This ensures an elastic dough and a lighter loaf.


Coarse semolina flour

This coarse, gritty flour is milled from the endosperm of durum wheat, which is one of the hardest varieties of wheat. Use it in combination with all-purpose flour for making bread.


Fine semolina or durum flour

Also referred to as semola di grano duro, this high-gluten flour is made from the endosperm of durum wheat and is ground twice to produce a fine texture that makes it ideal for breadmaking.


Granary flour

A combination of whole-wheat, white, and rye flours mixed with soft malted grains, this flour makes a textured loaf with a nutty, naturally sweet flavor. It is found in specialty shops.


Brown flour

This flour contains most of the wheat grain’s germ but has had some of the bran removed. Therefore, it produces a lighter loaf than does whole-wheat flour.


Mixing flours

Experimenting with different combinations of wheat and nonwheat flours enables the home baker to create breads with special textures, flavors, and colors. The secret of mixing flours successfully is balance. See the selection of nonwheat flours and follow the guidelines given here to get the best results when combining flours:

Any mixture must always include some wheat flour. The protein content of wheat flour allows the development of gluten, which is critical for a well-risen bread.

Two-thirds unbleached flour combined with one-third nonwheat flour gives bread optimum volume and texture.

The greater the proportion of nonwheat to wheat flour, the more pronounced its effect on the flavor and texture of the bread.

If the proportion of nonwheat to wheat flour is increased, the dough will rise more slowly, creating a much denser loaf.

Different flours absorb water at varying rates. Sift flours together to ensure an even distribution before adding liquid to them.

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